You’ve felt it. The energy drink industry is banking on it. So what is the dreaded “2pm feeling”, and how can you fight back?
You arrive at your office, ready to face a new day. As you take your seat and say hi to your coworkers, you can feel your mind and body starting to settle in to the day and tasks ahead of you. Although maybe you’d rather be at home with family or on vacation, for a work day with all things considered, you feel pretty good. As the morning wears on, you’re getting work done, feeling good, and in a rhythm.
But once 2pm rolls around, something happens. Something changes. You start to feel groggy, but it’s more than that. You feel unmotivated; you’re making simple mistakes that you normally never succumb to. You’re having a harder time making decisions, and you feel like you’re just burnt out and over it.
Welcome to the dreaded “2pm feeling” — a very real, very biological experience that hits us all each afternoon to one degree or another. And now, scientists are beginning to understand exactly why this happens, and what we can do to avoid falling victim to an afternoon lull each day that makes us feel like giving up.
The main reason for the 2pm feeling has to do with our circadian rhythm, our internal regulator that delivers various hormones in our brain depending on the time of day and the expected tasks our bodies foresee. The problem is, around 2pm our circadian rhythms take a dip into a kind of “low power” state that results in tangible physical sluggishness and apathy.
Crucially, the latest breakthrough by researchers seems to point at the reality that our reward processing centers in our brains go nearly silent at this time of day. In other words, we don’t feel as motivated or satisfied for completing the tasks set in front of us, despite their attractiveness at other moments. Yes, the time of day we do things has a significant effect on the outcome and our state of mind while attempting them.
So, if you have the hardest time thinking clearly and feeling rewarded for getting things out of the way once 2pm rolls around, what can we do to avoid getting hit each afternoon with the 2pm feeling? Psychologists are recommending organizing your to-do list each day from worst to best; or in other words, get rid of the tasks you really don’t want to do early in the morning where your brain will still deliver a sense of accomplishment (and motivation) for completing it. Otherwise, the clock might strike 2:00 and leave you too frazzled to be productive!